The Latest Addition To The High Line: A Roller-Skating Rink

August 23, 2011
Fast Company — By Belinda Lanks

“Just when we thought New York City’s High Line couldn’t get any better, it added a makeshift-looking roller-skating rink — an ironic throwback to old, pre-gentrified New York. (Now if it could bring back Florent, we’d be in heaven.)


Located at the park’s terminus, at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, the rink received sponsorship from Uniqlo, the Japanese powerhouse fashion retailer, which had commissioned the architecture firm HWKN to design pop-up shops nearby. (The stores resemble glowing white Rubik’s cubes, with sliding doors that open like vaults to reveal orderly stacks of clothing.)


As it turned out, HWKN’s Matthias Hollwich had, at the start of his career, worked with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects responsible for the High Line master plan as well as the new rink. Once reunited on the site, the two firms decided to joined forces. The result is an oval-shaped rink delineated by orange and white plastic construction barriers. A grid pattern is painted on the periphery to echo the facades of the Uniqlo pop-up shops; inside the rink, the pattern is distorted to simulate the movement of roller blades and skates circling over it.


HWKN’s Matthias Hollwich recalls the first meeting with Diller Scofidio as something of a mind meld. ‘They showed us their designs from the pattern on the rink, and it was not too different. We came up with almost the same idea without looking at each other.’ The only setback arose when the painting of pattern coincided with the three hottest days of the year, a circumstance that, according to Hollwich, still wasn’t enough to dampen spirits. ‘Everyone was energized by the idea of this roller skating,’ the architect says. ‘They want to be generous and authentic about the design.’ So did the architects do a trial run? ‘I’ve been there,’ Hollwich says, ‘and I fall down on my butt.’”